John Rowntree

0904 NPG 4 John Rowntree

John Rowntree (4 September 1868 – 9 March 1905) was the eldest son of the Quaker chocolate and cocoa manufacturer Joseph Rowntree. He entered his father’s York cocoa works at 18, reorganised them, and became a partner, then director before the age of 30. Against the wishes of his father, he brought in a new international outlook, buying cocoa plantations in Jamaica and Trinidad and selling products to Australia and New Zealand, helping Rowntrees become a limited company and grow from 200 to 2,000 employees. He taught at adult schools, and was seen as the father of Liberal Quakerism, urging Friends to accept scientific discoveries. Dogged by failing sight, he died of pneumonia aged 36 on a visit to an American eye specialist in New York.


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